Review – World War Z (Switch)

Saber Interactive have not only proved themselves with delivering excellent ports to consoles and PC, but also with some borderline impossible Switch ports. From the Crysis Remastered Trilogy to Witcher 3 and Vampyr, they are really, really, reaaaaally good at what they do. They are also a solid game developer in their own right as well, with World War Z being a surprisingly great licensed game that I’ve put plenty of hours into on PC. Now that Switch has it available for handheld playability, have the consoles met their match?

World War Z Hordes

Hordes can strain the Switch.

Instead of World War Z following a straight forward narrative, it tells its story through multiple characters. You will be playing as people all over the world seeing how they are responding to the zombie outbreak to survive; locations ranging from New York, Jerusalem, Russia, and Tokyo. There’s not a lot of story to dig into here, but it’s done fairly well, with seeing each country’s reaction to the start of the zombie outbreak. That’s something we don’t see too often in zombie games. 

The core gameplay is your standard Left 4 Dead-style four-player co-op shooter. Spawn on the map and fight through waves of zombies until you get to the end. It’s a fun game with plenty of variety in the level design. There are moments where you have to hold out and defend certain objectives. It’s these moments where the fun of World War Z shows itself, setting up defenses for a horde of hundreds of zombies to show up. Shooting your way through hordes of hundreds of zombies never gets old or boring, no matter how much you play this game. 

There are also tons of progression options, with seven classes in the current version of the game, each with their own skill trees and abilities that make levelling up feel rewarding. I just wish there was some continuity between each level within a chapter. Where in Left 4 Dead all your weapons and health carries over as you progress, here you lose everything for no apparent reason. It feels especially bad when you find the overpowered Advanced Combat Rifle right at the end. 

World War Z Advanced Combat Rifle

The Advanced Combat Rifle is overpowered.

Unfortunately, where World War Z on Switch really misses the mark is in the amount of content available. It’s missing the GotY Edition content that included Marseille, as well as the Aftermath expansion which included: Rome, Kamchatka, and a ton of gamelay improvements, including a first-person mode. The Aftermath expansion was fantastic and added a lot to the overall experience with two amazing chapters. It’s unclear if the Switch will get the Aftermath expansion at all, but the Marseille chapter will be coming as a free update. 

Of course being a Switch port of a fairly demanding game, you can expect some drawbacks. Whilst most of the visual effects remain intact, they are a lot blander, with clearly flat textures and an incredibly low resolution. This becomes the most apparent in the game’s massive horde sections where it often looks like a singular blob of enemies coming at you and not being able to discern between each zombie. I’d also recommend keeping this game in handheld mode as playing docked on a 55″ TV looked really rough. It certainly looks serviceable in handheld mode, but it won’t exactly blow you away. 

As for framerates, we are looking at very mixed results throughout. For the most part, you can expect the game to be hitting close to that 30fps target, especially during the quieter moments with smaller numbers of zombies. However, during huge horde moments this can drop to the low 20s. The Tokyo chapter in particular provides some challenging situations for the Switch, and I can only imagine how the future maps will perform. Thankfully, I would still say this is a playable experience. World War Z doesn’t rely on accurate shooting or quick reactions unless you move up to higher difficulties, which may be a problem. 

Climbing just like in the movie.

World War Z is one of the better horde shooters out there right now. There’s nothing quite like mowing down hundreds upon hundreds of zombies in a single wave. However, with the DLC content not in this particular Switch version just yet, it is hard to recommend to people who may have already played it on a PC or other consoles. Still, if you can overlook this, and if you really want to experience this on-the-go, then World War Z on Switch is still worth playing.

Graphics: 4.0

World War Z on Switch can look really rough at times, and perform even worse.

Gameplay: 8.0

World War Z is one of the best co-op shooters out there right now, and its gameplay is still solid in here, despite the aforementioned performance issues.

Sound: 7.5

Sound design is serviceable, but nothing really of note. 

Fun Factor: 6.5

I can only recommend the Switch version of World War Z to anyone who hasn’t played Aftermath before or just really want the game on a handheld. It is fun, but inferior in every single way.

Final Verdict: 6.5

World War Z is available now on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of World War Z was provided by the publisher.